Jerked out of a busy day

Published 9:29 pm Thursday, May 12, 2011

When you’re extremely busy, as I am these days, you tend to miss or overlook the little things — the slices of life that can make your day.

About a year ago, there was a story on the Food and Beverage page about Dorothy Lovell, owner of Jammin’ Jerk BBQ, a Caribbean eatery. In the story, Lovell explained how customer service was very important to her. In fact, her exact words were “I love people. And I’m building a staff that loves people too. Because good hospitality and listening to what people want is really what makes a true Caribbean dining experience.” And when you interview people, you tend take their words on good faith, write the story, and move on with your life.

But recently, in the midst of my frantic dashing here and there, I was slowed down in a way that only nature can do. I really had to use the bathroom. Now, whether it was serendipity or just dumb luck that I was passing Jammin’ Jerk BBQ when nature called, I may never know. All I know is that it was either stop and pay Dorothy Lovell a visit or spring to have my upholstery cleaned.

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I entered and picked up a menu to place a little to-go order to avoid seeming like I only came in to use the restroom. (Just kidding, Dorothy. I always come to your establishment for the food.) Before my decision was made, I was greeted by Lovell herself, with a pleasant smile and my order decision already made for me. “I know what you’re getting,” she said. “He’ll have the Jamburger.” And my mother always told me never to argue with a lady in her kitchen. So the only thing I could say was “Yes, ma’am.”

As I waited for my order to be made, a young couple and their son came into the restaurant. They were clearly newcomers to Lovell’s establishment. Sensing it right away, Lovell rushed right over to them and put on a demonstration of what customer service should be. Fortunately, I had a perfect view to watch a master at work.

“Is this your first time?” she asked.

The couple responded nervously with a “yes.”

“Let me get you some samples then,” Lovell said with that pleasant smile still on her face. Noticing that the son had a bit of a sour and/or nervous look on his face, Lovell stayed the course. “And I think I’ll bring you something that will put a smile on your face,” she said to the little boy.

After the couple was wowed by Lovell’s samples and the young boy got a few sips of frozen punch, they seemed like they might become regulars at Jammin’ Jerk. She had also gotten the smile from the once-sour little boy, as promised.

And as I exited the restaurant and back out into the Suffolk landscape and my own busy schedule, I felt refreshed in knowing that sometimes the things people say in newspaper interviews are not just talk. There are those who not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

Thank you, Dorothy, for reminding me why all the busy days I work in Suffolk are worth working.

By the way, the Jamburger was delicious.